02/03.11.1944 576 Squadron Lancaster I LM122 UL:X2 Plt Off. William H. Hepburn
Date: 2nd/3rd November 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 576 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire
Location: West of Rhine, Dusseldorf, Germany
Pilot: Plt Off. William Hendry Hepburn 182151 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Thomas Hughes 2210561 RAFVR Age? Evaded capture
Nav: Sgt. Francis McWatt 1670355 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Sgt. James Reavey 1692021 RAFVR Age? Evaded capture
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Noel Rees 1418676 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 1258 *
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Thomas McKay Annand Murray 1348949 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Salvin Fielding 1620500 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
* Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).
The Bomb Aimer from this crew, Mr. James Reavey is trying to make contact with Mr. David Rees, son of Sgt. Noel Rees - please contact us and your details will be forwarded.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 16:12 hrs from RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire to attack Düsseldorf, Germany. Massive raid (Last on Düsseldorf of the war by bomber command) with 992 aircraft taking part. (561 Lancasters, 400 Halifaxes and 31 Mosquitoes).
The raid resulted in 5,000 houses destroyed or badly damaged including steel manufacturers, 7 industrial firms were destroyed and a further 18 seriously damaged. Over 678 people on the ground were killed and another 1,000 were injured. 19 Aircraft were lost (11 Halifax, 8 Lancasters)
LM122 was claimed by Ofw Josef Strohlein 6./NJG1, his 3rd Abschuss, just South East of the target Dusseldorf: 5,500m at 19:25 hrs.
Note: Flying at 17,500ft released bombs at 19:21 and immediately after hit by “Flak” tearing big hole under Navigators compartment and in No1 tank, both inner engines u/s, pilot ordered to bale out at 5,000ft , crashed probably Baraque Michel area. Ofw Strohlein in Bf110 G-4 G9+BN fired two long bursts of gun fire into four engined bomber from behind over target at 19:22 setting it on fire before swerving off after spotting a twin engined aircraft flying nearby, claimed to observe his quarry crashing 3 minutes later. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 5 - Theo Boiten)
Also lost from the Squadron on this operation was that of Lancaster I II NE115 UL:B2 Flown by Fg Off. J.J. Mulrooney 48587 RAFVR taken PoW, the only crew member of 7 to survive.
Plt Off. William Hendry Hepburn. Hotton War Cemetery. Grave 11.E.6. Son of James Low Hepburn and Jean Caldwell Hepburn, of Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.
Sgt. Francis McWatt. Hotton War Cemetery. Grave 11.E.7. Son of Peter and Alice Elizabeth McWatt, of Dumbarton, Scotland.
Sgt. Thomas McKay Annand Murray. Hotton War Cemetery. Grave 11.E.4. Son of Robert and Elizabeth Murray, of Union Street, Aberdeen, Scotland.
Sgt. Salvin Fielding. Hotton War Cemetery. Grave 11.E.5. Son of Samuel Bennett Fielding and Beatrice Fielding, of Wyke, Yorkshire, England.
Researched for James Reavey - The Air Bomber from this crew, dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources quoted below. With thanks to Des Phillipart for grave photographs. Also thanks to James William Annand Tidy for correction in the name of Sgt. Thomas McKay Annand Murray - the CWGC has also listed him incorrectly as Arnand and James is trying to get them to change this. Thanks to John Jones for the German night fighter claim details (Mar 2022).